Friday, October 28, 2011

Chipotle Halloween Fundraiser

Do y'all have dinner plans for Halloween yet?  If not, you might want to consider heading to your local Chipotle after 6 p.m. that day.  Why? Because October 31 is Boorito, a fundraiser for the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and Farm Aid.  All you have to do is dress up in a costume inspired by the family farm.  Then, for a mere $2, you can get a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos.  All proceeds, up to $1 million, go to the Chiptole Cultivate Foundation and Farm Aid.

In case you aren't aware, Chipotle makes a conscious effort to use local and sustainable ingredients.  You all know how awesome I think that is. A fundraiser to benefit those same family farms providing those awesome ingredients is pretty spectacular.  Plus they're partnering with Farm Aid, and anything with the Willie Nelson seal of approval automatically gets the Hungry Lady seal of approval.

You can read more about Boorito here. I would also recommend checking out the foundations that your $2 will be going to: The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation and Farm Aid.  

Pretty awesome cause, y'all.  Get out to your local Chipotle on Halloween and support your local farmers.  Besides, eating actual food before gorging yourself on Halloween candy can only be beneficial, right?

You can read the full press release after the jump.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Road Trip: London Grill in Philadelphia

I know I've been M.I.A. for awhile.  Real life has taken its toll lately, and between grad school, being sick, a huge work project, and being out of town to celebrate my birthday, I haven't really had time for much else.  But things are starting to get back to normal, and I have a few good  posts coming your way, including a guest blog about food in Buffalo, an awesome dinner in, all you can eat meat, and my trip to Asheville this coming weekend.  But first, let's talk about my amazing birthday dinner.

A few months back, I was feeling a bit on the homesick side, so I looked at my calendar and my budget to see when I could possibly take the time to make a trip up to my mom's house just outside of Philadelphia.  Between her schedule and mine, anything over the summer was out.  I was itching to get home, because, well...I really just missed my mom.  Then I happened to get an email about a concert that was coming up in her area - I fully credit my excellent taste for music to my parents, who always made sure I appreciated the classics - that happened to fall, conveniently, right around my birthday.  Perfect, I thought, as my sister's birthday, my birthday, and my mom's birthday all fall within a week of each other.  Plus the show featured two of my favorite bands, so it was bound to be awesome. Speaking of which, get yourself out to see Jackie Greene and/or Truth & Salvage Co. if you ever get the chance. Trust me, you won't regret it.  Right.  Back to the point.  I called my mom to run this trip by her, she jumped on board (apparently she missed me too), we made plans for to visit my sister while I was there, I booked my flight, and we were set.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quick & Easy Dinners - Homemade Pizza

Remember the 947 million times I've mentioned on this blog that I'm not much of a cook?  Well, make it 948 million now.  I don't cook very often.  How then, you ask, does The Hungry Lady eat?  I'm really good with pasta and things that go in the microwave.  I even have some frozen fish fillets in my freezer that I haven't managed to screw up yet.  And I can do canned soups, salads, and sandwiches.  Needless to say, I get by.  Maybe not in the most healthful of fashions, but I do manage to get three meals a day.

But I digress.  I have never been one of those  people who derives any pleasure from cooking - standing over a hot stove/oven, plus doing prep work, is just not how I want to spend my time.  From this, you can correctly assume that I'm definitely not one of those people who eat something and then are inspired to recreate the flavor profile in a totally different dish (see also: Top Chef).  So when my  roommate and I were eating some leftover lasagna one night and she mentioned that the flavors would be really good on a pizza, I was a little shocked to find myself nodding my head in agreement.  We both flipped through our mental calendars and managed to find a rare evening when we would both be home for dinner and decided to make it pizza night.  We divided up the ingredients onto our respective shopping lists, and five days later, we were standing in the kitchen making pizza crust, chopping vegetables, and browning sausage.  I'd be lying if I said that I did any of the actual cooking, but I did chop up the veggies pretty well.

Once we got everything assembled, we put a rather gigantic pizza in the oven and waited for the kitchen timer to go off.  The aroma of fennel and tomato sauce was heavy in the air.  You could probably hear our stomachs rumbling from a block away.  Finally, after 15 agonizing minutes, the timer dinged, and we ran into the kitchen to pull our mouthwateringly good dinner out of the oven.

This thing was delicious.  And was really good as leftovers the next day.
So how did we make it?
1 jar of pizza sauce (we used Ragu, because it was on sale)
2 Betty Crocker Just-Add-Water pizza crust mixes
1 large package of mozzarella (the kind that comes in a ball, not the pre-shredded kind)
2 large green peppers
1 8 oz package of mushrooms
1 can large, pitted, black olives
2 links of hot Italian sausage (the kind you buy in the fresh meat aisle, not the pre-cooked section)

J worked on putting the pizza crust together.  I added some garlic and basil to the pizza sauce because it was really sweet and needed something to make it less so.  We browned the sausage (and still had 4 large links left over, one of which I added to some spaghetti sauce later that week), then cut it into circles. I would have maybe used a few more mushrooms (and that's only because they weren't evenly distributed - J said she got plenty of them), but otherwise, this was perfect.  We're definitely talking about doing pizza night again soon.  Maybe next time, I can convince her to try this cauliflower crust pizza from my friend (no really, we've known each other since high school) Eric over at Eric Dishes.  Plus....making your own pizza is way cheaper (and way less greasy) than ordering from your local pizza joint.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, I don't mean Christmas.  I mean that it's football season.  A time for tailgates, cookouts, too many beers, good friends, and the agony or ecstasy that accompanies each game.  I live in SEC country (for those of you who don't do college football, SEC = Southeastern Conference), where football Saturdays are a religion.  I'm lucky to have a group of friends who are champion tailgaters, whether they are tailgating in a parking lot or at someone's house.

For the first game of the season, my fabulous friends decided to get things started in style.  We all headed over to Z & H's house with assorted cases of beer and food products.  Z spent all day grilling chicken and ribs.  We had salads and potatoes and veggies and baked beans and dessert.  And, to start the day, we made pancakes and sausage.  Plus we had three TVs set up, cornhole, flip cup, and tents to keep the heat at bay.  Throw in the 14 hours we spent devouring the first Saturday of college football, and you had some very happy campers.

Since that first weekend, no one's schedules have really meshed well enough to recreate that scene. There's still been some pretty good food involved though, most notably the lovely dishes that G and L made for us this past weekend when we watched the game at their house.  Kickoff was at 12:21, so of course, we had to show  up early enough to watch ESPN College Gameday before our game.  G decided to make beignets for the occasion.  I woke up late, and so didn't get to their house in time to get one hot out of the fryer, but even slightly cold, they were amazing.  I'm putting in a request that we do beignets again soon.

Just in time for the game, we had this plate of deliciousness (please note the Gamecock plate):
What is that, you ask?  That would be a large portion of bacon wrapped, beer boiled brats.  Say that 5 times fast.  Clearly if you're not a pork eater, these aren't for you.  But for the rest of us, these were utterly amazing.  To be totally honest, bacon wrapped anything is pretty amazing, but I could eat these non-stop.  What made these so special?  Each tooth-picked goodness was rubbed down with a combination of brown sugar and cayenne pepper.  It was an outstanding combination of sweet and spicy and it was filling.  For a nice variation, we spread some jalapeno pimento cheese on a few of them, and wow.  The flavor of the cheese just melted away, leaving the sweet and spicy taste of the pork.  I'm pretty much going to insist that these are served at every group function from now until the end of time.  Well done, G & L.  Well done.

Friday, October 7, 2011

DRY soda + Urban Outfitters = A Grand Time in Columbia

If you live in Columbia, you've probably heard through the grapevine that the Urban Outfitters Store on Tour has set up shop on Senate Street, right by the Tin Roof.  They'll be here until Sunday, October 9th, so if you get a chance, head to the Vista and check them out.

On tour with Urban Outfitters is DRY Soda. DRY is an all-natural, four ingredient soda, that by all accounts is not nearly as sweet as normal sodas.  The lovely PR people at DRY contacted this humble blogger to ask if I'd want to try a few samples.  As soon as they land on my doorstep, I'll be giving them a try and letting y'all know what I find.  Of course, if I find myself with some extra time this weekend, I may head over to Senate Street and try a sample beforehand.

If you're curious about DRY soda, check out their website, or read their press release below...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mmmm Mmmm Good....but not in a Campbell's type way.

This past weekend, the weather in Columbia started to change.  It went from being warm, slightly humid, and sunny to windy, chilly, and sunny.  In in the immortal words of the Grateful Dead, there was "not a chill to the winter, but a nip to the air."  I'm a hot weather person.  I would rather have days of 100 degree temperatures with humidity than ever have the mercury dip below about 65 degrees.  So you could say that I was a bit disgruntled when I was tailgating for the football game on Saturday and I had to pull a blanket out of the trunk of my car so that I could stop shivering.  Of course, with the change in the weather, my sinuses started acting up, so by the time Sunday rolled around, I could barely breathe, and the only thing on my mind was getting warm.  That afternoon, I had plans to go the Carolina Ale House and watch my heartbreakingly bad Philadelphia Eagles give up a 24 point lead to lose to a not-so-great 49ers team.  Let's run through this, shall we?  I was freezing, had a horrible cold, was bummed and angry about the Gamecocks losing on Saturday, and my Eagles were playing like a pee wee football team.  Clearly it was time for comfort food.  Or a lot of bourbon, but as I had to drive home, bourbon wasn't really an option.  Comfort food, it was.

Side note: I go to the Ale House every week for football. They have about a zillion TVs and show every game being  played.  Some games are featured downstairs, while others are upstairs.  The hostess usually has a list of what game will be where so that you can watch your favorite team.  The atmosphere is pretty chill, but at the same time, no one is going to give you a dirty look if you start yelling for or about your game.  Plus the food and beer selection are good.  It's something I would look into if you need a good Sunday football spot.

Back to the food.  I asked our fabulous server what the soup was that day.  When she said that it was chicken and sausage gumbo, I was sold.  It was everything I could have possibly wanted.  It was warm, fragrant, peppery, but not overly so, and it was FULL of chicken and sausage.  I'm not a huge okra fan, but even the okra in the gumbo was good.  I finished my cup and was debating just ordering more instead of getting a sandwich later.  I really hope they have this gumbo on the menu more often, now that the coldish weather is upon us.  The rest of my meal was good - I took a chance and ordered the "Classic Philly Cheesesteak," which is something I usually don't do if I'm outside of the Philadelphia area.  It wasn't bad, though the fact that I had to order it without lettuce and tomato kind of irritated me.  FYI, the addition of lettuce and tomato makes it a cheesesteak hoagie, NOT a cheesesteak.  But it was still pretty tasty.

After two demoralizing losses by my football teams, I really needed a pick-me-up.  Lucky for me, my hometown Phillies were hosting the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday night.  After a disco nap and some reading for my grad class, I headed to Delaney's for some baseball.  I was still freezing and not feeling so hot (yes Mom, I know I should have stayed at home and rested, but I don't have a TV and really wanted to watch my team), so I asked the bartender what the soup of the day was.  I was a little disappointed when he told me it was Creamy Tomato Basil.  I've never been a fan of tomato soups.  I'm not sure why, but I'm just not a fan.  My dislike of tomato soup was warring with my desire for something to warm me up.  The bartender gave me a tiny sample to try, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  Tomato Basil soup and grilled cheese for dinner.  Yes, I'm really a 5 year old.  The soup was almost like eating vodka sauce.  It was creamy and flavorful with bits of cheese and basil.  I asked if I could get free refills on soup, but alas, was shot down.  

The colder weather has really gotten me thinking about soups in general.  I've even thought about learning how to make soup.  That may be a little ambitious, as we all know that I hate to cook, but we'll see.  I'd love if y'all would share your favorite soup recipes with me.  Maybe I'll try them out.  Of course, this is Columbia, so it could very well be in the mid-80s next week and you'll see this post again at the end of October......